KAY FRANCIS BALLARD was born in Longreach in 1942. The transport industry was in her blood from the beginning. Her father James Doyle was a mail and freight contractor and her brother Lawrence was also a truck driver. She was taught to ‘steer a truck’ from an early age. Kay married Sidney (Syd) Ballard in 1964. Their son Eric was born in 1965 and daughter June in 1973. Over the years their main base was Avon Downs and Camooweal, where Kay still lives. Her career as a truck driver took her up the top of Western Australia, throughout the Northern Territory and across Queensland. Kay was one of the first women to drive a truck across the Barkly Highway carting cattle, a feat she repeated many times. Another of Kay’s achievements was being the first female to drive a cattle road train onto the Wharf in Darwin.
Kay was recognised with a ‘Women of Achievement Award’ for her significant contribution to business and community. In the mid 1980’s, Kay and her husband organised one of the biggest single movements of cattle. They moved 2500 head of cattle from the Northern Territory to Dalby Queensland. Kay drove one of the road trains herself. Another of Kay’s proud memories was carting large fat bullocks from north of Muttaburra for delivery to the Dalby Saleyards. Despite the harsh road conditions, most couldn’t believe the cattle arrived in such excellent condition. The agents congratulated Kay on this achievement.
Kay and Syd built their business up from one road train to four, having started out with a second hand A51 Mack. The Ballards predominantly brought Mack trucks throughout the years following. During the life of the company they operated 24 trucks. Their last truck was a Series II Mack Superliner purchased just before Syd died in 1987.
Kay’s life on the road wasn’t easy. She drove trucks in the days when the roads were more dirt than bitumen and the amenities for woman were very few. She raised two children on the road, cooked for the drivers and organised the day to day running of the business. Kay is testament to women in the road transport industry.